Beyond the Cliché: What “Innovation” Means to Me…

InnovateInnovative is a loaded – and often overused – adjective; isn’t every technology vendor “innovative”? I suspect it is a top-ten, most often used descriptor in corporate mission statements. The truth is, most vendors focus squarely on “shareholder value” and merely pay lip-service to the notion of a real synergy between product innovation and share price.

The subject of innovation comes to mind as Ephesoft prepares for its End-User Conference, INNOVATE. To us, taking on that title brings with it a responsibility to deliver on the implied promise of dynamic product development and real world value for our Customers and Partners. So in the spirit of the season (think back to your grade school Christmas essays) I’d like to share what Innovation means to me:

Innovation is a conversation, where a product is conceptualized by asking questions, listening carefully, then thinking deeply about new approaches to a business challenge.

Innovation is an iterative process. Huge leaps in innovation are the exception. More often, innovation is a direction that is approached in a number of measurable steps. So while the results of an innovative approach may appear revolutionary, the process of innovation is often evolutionary.

Innovation is not daring or risky. Looking at challenges in new ways is part of the process, but innovation is not at the extremes of “that’s the easiest solution” or “that’s the greatest risk/reward” variable. Certainly trial and error may take place, but the overall strategic direction is still reasonable.

Innovation is fresh… The document capture industry seems to be in a state of stale development. It wasn’t always that way, of course. Innovators developed new ways of extracting from images, but somewhere along the way a heard mentally overtook leading vendors – and a feature set checklist and “win business by discounting” mindset took over. Less effort is put into technology development while more creativity is put into relabeling features to match the latest industry trends.

Innovation is practical, elegant and intuitive. Think of the automotive industry. Step-by-step automatic transmissions, fuel injection, ABS brakes, airbags, rear view cameras and alternative fuel power plants have offered a better way to get from point A to point B. These features came from creative developers that took the challenge of automotive transportation to include safety, economy and comfort.

Finally,

Innovation means exceeding expectations. We are always seeking feedback from customers and partners on features that can make their document processing more efficient. But innovation requires more than just asking “what do you want?” – then simply delivering those features in a new release. Innovation involves asking “what are you trying to accomplish?” – and creating new ways to make that happen.

 

How about you? When you think of Innovation, what are your expectations? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Our best wishes to you for a safe and prosperous holiday season and New Year.